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In this second episode of the J Arts podcast series, Geri and Michaela talk to Contemporaneo Gallery owner Francisco Troconis and local artist Denby Dale about kinetic art (art based in movement) and the influence on it from Israeli artists.Theme music "Zisa Meydele" by Zoe & Cloyd, courtesy of Natalya WeinsteinIntro "Yaacov Agam at the Dizengoff Fountain" courtesy of Park West GalleryOutro of Agam's Harpe Musicale performance piece from  "See the Sound: A Sunday in NY with Yaacov Agam" courtesy of Park West Gallery
In conjunction with the JCC's "J" Art Fest event series, J Voices is releasing four episodes that explore each featured art form (visual, musical, culinary) through a Jewish lens. Listen to the first in the series, in which we talk with humanitarian artist and Asheville native Ben Betsalel about how art connects us to our humanity. Theme music "Zisa Meydele" by Zoe & Cloyd, courtesy of Natalya WeinsteinLearn more about J Art Fest hereSee Ben's work by visiting or
Get a taste of Jewish food tradition as Geri and Michaela talk to chefs Rachel Miriam and Adrienne Press about how cuisine brings people together. Theme music "Zisa Meydele" by Zoe & Cloyd, courtesy of Natalya WeinsteinChef Rachel's Nourishing Mushroom Gravy and Creamy Polenta:Nourishing Mushroom Gravyyield: 4 each, 8 to 12-ounce servings, to be spooned over creamy polentaolive oil1 large sweet onion, small dice1 pound fresh mushrooms (shiitake, white button, crimini, oyster, king; small & medium dice, shiitakes sliced 1/4-inch thick)plenty of minced or grated fresh ginger root, 1-2 heaped tablespoon minimum2 celery stalk, small dice3 carrots, small dice3-5 garlic cloves, smashed and minced½ teaspoon good smoked paprika1 teaspoon dry sage and rosemary, ground in a spice grinderfew sprigs thyme1 bay leaf4 cups vegetable broth2 tablespoon coconut aminos1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar4 teaspoons arrowroot powderHeat olive oil over medium-high heat, cook onion until softened, stirring to prevent browning. Add sliced mushrooms, celery, and carrot, cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms release all their liquid and begin to turn golden brown; next add garlic, ginger, and all seasoning, saute a few minutes, coating all vegetables in spice.Next add vegetable broth and coconut aminos, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until flavors begin to develop and liquid has reduced some, about 30 to 45 minutes.Spoon 1/4 cup of the gravy into a small bowl, add the arrowroot powder, whisking until smooth. Finally slowly pour the arrowroot base back into the gravy, stirring well. Simmer until thickened.Mushroom gravy recipe adapted from: Polentayield: 2 quarts1.5 cups Bob's Red Mill Organic Corn Grits aka Polenta3.75 cups water or chicken stock3.75 cups milk or nuetral plant-based milk of choice½ cup grass-fed butter (1 stick)sea salt and ground black pepper to tasteoptional add-ins: minced herbs of choice, ½ to 1 cup of grated choice of choiceOver high flame, combine and bring water, stock and milk just to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta / corn grits, reduce flame to medium, medium-high until a strong boil, then reduce heat and stir often, being sure to scrape all along the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent sticking. Begin tasting for seasoning and doneness around 20 minutes. Add in butter, herbs and/cheese if using at this time. May take up to 45 minutes of longer to achieve desired consistency, depending on the brand or quality of polenta.
In celebration of Purim and Women's History Month, hosts Geri and Michaela sit down with Rabbi Batsheva Meiri and ask, "what can we learn from women in the Book of Esther?"Intro poem from "Esther's Blessing on Finding Our True Name" by Devon SpierTheme music "Zisa Meydele" by Zoe & Cloyd, courtesy of Natalya WeinsteinOutro music by Geri Garfinkel-Gershon and Michaela KelleySponsors : Red Maple Dental and Gaia Goldman
In the premier episode of season 3 of J Voices, hosts Michaela and Geri talk to historian Sharon Fahrer and former JCC Executive Director Lael Gray to answer the question, "Why Does Asheville Need a JCC?"Intro audio from "Why the J?" courtesy of Marty GillenTheme music "Zisa Meydele" by Zoe & Cloyd courtesy of Natalya WeinsteinOutro music "They Call It the J" courtesy of Bob Deutsch and Penny White
In this part two of a two part series on Judaism and creativity, local musician Billy Jonas shares his creative process and the ways that Judaism has influenced his art throughout his artistic career. Learn more about Billy Jonas here: 
This episode of J Voices is the first of a two part series focusing on Judaism and creativity.  We interview Asheville Jewish community member, writer, artist, and parent, Peretz Cohn,  about his writing and his artwork, and how they are influenced by and reflect his Jewish culture and beliefs. To see more of Peretz's work, see this link:
This episode of J Voices focuses on Judaism and psychiatry. We talk with longtime friends and members of the Ashevillle Jewish community, David Leader and Steve Shulruff. We hear about the reasons they pursued work in psychiatry and the Jewish influences on their work. We also receive advice from each of them about how to move forward in a world that is slowly opening again to social interaction but that may not look like the world we left behind a year ago when the pandemic began. 
This episode is about Jewish sacred music's ability to heal both the listener and the music maker. This episode includes some special voices in the Jewish community. We hear music from Jane Roman Pitt, Geri Garfinkel Gershon, Seth Kellam and Penny White. We listen to these musicians explain their relationship to Jewish sacred music and their understanding of the healing qualities of Jewish music.
Rabbi Susskind of Asheville Chabad House has the amazing opportunity to write a Torah with our community. In this episode of J Voices, we talk to Rabbi Susskind about the process and importance of writing a Torah. We hear about why the project is important to him, and why its meaningful that it be seen and shared as a community-wide project in which everyone is invited to participate. 
The Asheville Jewish Community Center's Welcome Shabbat program serves Asheville's community elders in residential homes, bringing Jewish rituals and cultural celebrations to elderly individuals who may not have the opportunity to participate in the beloved traditions of their faith. In this episode of JVoices, we talk to the program facilitators Natalie Shaw and Penny White about the impact the program has had on participants. We talk to Jessica Whitehill of Jewish Family Services about the recent partnership with the JCC and JFS's Elder Club participants. We hear from Welcome Shabbat participant Barbara Turner, and long-time Welcome Shabbat volunteer Dee Weiner about the impact and importance of the program. 
S1E11: Camp Ruach

S1E11: Camp Ruach


In this episode of J Voices, we talk to the directors of the JCC's summer camp program and youth and teen programs about the experience of camp during a pandemic. We hear from parents who sent their children to Camp Ruach, we talk to a counselor about how things were different this year, and we hear from campers themselves about what camp was like with social distancing. 
S1E10: Tzedek Part 3

S1E10: Tzedek Part 3


This episode of J Voices is the third in a three-part series dedicated to the Jewish value of Tzedek. In this episode, we talk to Marsha Davis from the Tzedek Social Justice Fund about the importance of listening to Black leaders and including LGBTQIA+ voices in the Black Lives Matter movement. We talk to Zeke Christopoulos about Tranzmission's mission of educating about and advocating for Trans individuals locally and nationally.To learn more about Dove Kent's work, see these links:
S1E9: Tzedek Part 2

S1E9: Tzedek Part 2


In this part 2 of the Tzedek series of J Voices, we hear from JCC employee and staff Mackayla Johnson about her experience growing up in Asheville. We talk to Judy Leavitt from Carolina Jews for Justice about ways that the Jewish Community can support the Black Lives Matter movement, and we hear music by Jewish musician Josh Blake. 
S1E8: Tzedek Part 1

S1E8: Tzedek Part 1


This episode of J Voices is part of a three-part series dedicated to the Jewish value of Tzedek. In Part 1 of the series, we talk to Deborah Miles from the Center of Diversity Education about the origins of the center. We talk to local artist and activist Phyllis Utley about her work, which highlights education through self-analysis. This episode is co-hosted with special guest and JCC teacher and parent, Rasheeda Johnson.
This episode of J Voices is a tribute to beloved JCC community member Dan Pincu, who lost his fight with COVID 19 last month. Dan was an active volunteer for several local organizations, including the Asheville Jewish Community Center, the Asheville Visitors Center, and the Jewish Secular Community of Asheville. This episode is dedicated to sharing the values and missions of some of Dan’s favorite local programs, exploring some of the organizations he loved and supported, and sharing memories of Dan’s warm personality, his love of people, nature, and social activities, as well as his lasting impression on the Asheville Community.
In episode 6 of J Voices, we talk to president and CEO of the JCC Association of America Doron Krackow about how JCCs across the country have been affected by COVID-19. We hear from Asheville JCC board president Carol Wenom about how the Asheville JCC's response to the virus was crafted, and we speak to Ashley Lasher, executive direcor at the Asheville J about how the crisis has affected employees and the JCC's financial viability   and we learn about when and how JCC programs will begin reopening. Music for this episode was donated by Billy Jonas. 
S1E5: Tikkun Olam

S1E5: Tikkun Olam


 Episode five of J Voices is dedicated to the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, and the efforts local Jewish community members are taking to help heal the natural environment through regenerative agriculture and environmental education. We hear from Sarah Julia Seldin and Justin Goldstein of Yesod Farm + Kitchen, and we talk to Jacqui Childs, garden specialist at the JCC's Shalom Children's Center. We also listen to music from local band, Mama Danger. 
 In episode four of J Voices, we hear from JCC community members about their Passover experiences, we listen to Michael Rowland, Marketing Consultant for the JCC Association of America tell his story of Passover during a pandemic; we listen to music recorded by Penny White, and hear from past JCC board president and JCC supporter, Bob Deutsch, about upcoming Yom Hashoah services in our area. 
In episode three of J Voices, we hear from those of us who are trying to adjust to our new way of life at home. We talk to parents about the day-to-day struggles of juggling parenting and work. We hear from those dealing with little to no face time with friends. We check in with local musician and former JCC board member, Ed Fidelman, who shares with us his Ballad of COVID-19, a song he wrote about the pandemic for the JCC's Mountain Music Jam group. Thanks for listening. 
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